Jury still out on Tolzien, McCoy or Daniels for number two quarterback spot

By David Zizmor

SANTA CLARA–The 49ers who completed their second pre season game on Friday night was an uneventful match in Kansas City although they did manage to win the game 15-13. As we saw in the first game this wasn’t much of a match up it was obviously the intrigue involved with former 49ers quarterback and now Chief Alex Smith facing the 49ers for the first time ever and seeing him in another uniform was certainly strange.

The 49ers are concerned from a roster stand point this wasn’t exactly a big deal of a game were not seeing a lot of competition and were not seeing the starters for all that long 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick only played one series and that series was uneventful it was highlighted by a big 50 plus yard run by running back Frank Gore. Kaepernick he looked so good in practice and in the first game there was really no reason to run.

There was no need having Kaepernick go onto the field and get hurt, the 49ers immediately shifted to back up mode partly because the back up quarterback situation is a little bit more tumultuous and the 49ers need to make a decision about the number two guy behind Kaepernick whether it’s going to be Scott Tolzien, Colt McCoy, or B.J. Daniels who the 49ers drafted this year. From that prospective it’s not sure if the 49ers got a whole lot of answers.

None of these guys really separated themselves from the field and they all had okay games but nothing particularly note worthy, you could see Tolzien was 3-8, McCoy was 3-6, Daniels probably had the best game going 6-9 for 72 yards including a little bit of scrambling 4-13. You have to note that he threw the only touchdown pass in the game. You have to note that Daniels was playing in the fourth quarter when they were going at third and fourth string guys or in other words players that won’t even make it to the NFL when the season starts.

Most of those guys might make it to the practice squad at that. Daniels had a good game and could see that and you could see the raw talent. The 49ers liked when they drafted him but he wasn’t only going against high quality opponents. McCoy and Tolzien were going to get slightly better and they had a little bit tougher time. The 49ers looked at their performance and said “oh boy we got to be a little concerned with how their playing, because none of these guys are separating themselves and making it obvious whose going to be the number two quarterback.

It’s a bit of a concern if Kaepernick gets hurt and if your comparing McCoy and Tolzien and the reason to separate Tolzien from McCoy is that McCoy has started about 20 games in his NFL career. So at least he has the experience being under center when it counts. Tolzien has been in the league for a couple of years and knows the 49ers system a little bit better because he’s been with the team for a couple of years but at the same time he’s never taken the field and that’s got to be a little bit of a concern you never know how a player is going to respond under pressure.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

Preseason preview week 2, 49ers at Chiefs

By Gabe Schapiro

This Friday, August 16 at 5pm, the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) face off against the rebuilding Kansas City Chiefs (0-1) at Arrowhead Stadium. Despite just being the preseason, this matchup comes with some intrigue. After a dismal 2-14 season last year, the Chiefs underwent a major overhaul. They brought in a new general manager, John Dorsey, and head coach, Andy Reid, who had previously spent over a decade with the Philadelphia Eagles. In addition, the Chiefs got themselves a new starting quarterback. In June these two opponents completed a trade that sent Alex Smith, who was somewhat controversially replaced last season by Colin Kaepernick, to the Chiefs for a couple of draft picks. This will be the first time Smith will be taking on his former team of seven years.

Last week in the preseason opener the 49ers lost to the Denver Broncos 10-6. As is to be expected the assumed starters saw little action, mostly just playing in one series. The first-team offense looked solid, going on a 13-play drive for a field goal in their opening possession. The second and third units have some work to do after combining for four turnovers, but that is what this time of year is all about. As will continue to be the emphasis in the coming three weeks, the preseason is all about staying healthy, settling position battles, and gearing up for the real deal on September 8.

With week 1 in the books, the competition at wide receiver seems to be more up in the air than ever. Anquan Boldin already seems to have an established chemistry with Kaepernick, which is great news moving forward, but after Boldin the depth chart looks unclear. Kyle Williams didn’t play last week as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury. Marlon Moore, Chad Hall, Kassim Osgood, and Austin Collie had solid games. AJ Jenkins, however, struggled. He saw his fair share of snaps, but was targeted just three times, and only had one reception. To make matters worse, on his one reception he promptly fumbled, accounting for one of the teams’ four turnovers. By all accounts Jenkins has the talent, but as of yet just hasn’t been able to put everything together. Keep a close eye on the receiving corp, Jenkins in particular, heading into week 2 against a lesser defense.

The competitions at free safety and cornerback continue as well, although both positions look far less muddled. At safety Craig Dahl started the game last week, but presumed starter Eric Reid had a strong debut, getting a lot of playing time and finishing with six tackles. Looking to step up for the injured cornerback Chris Culliver, the trio of Parrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, and Nnamdi Asomugha did well. The group will look to show what they’ve got against former teammate Alex Smith.

As a whole, expect to see slightly more playing time for all of the starters as everyone gets game ready for the regular season opener.

49ers vs Broncos, preseason preview

By Gabe Schapiro

August 5, 2013

This Thursday, August 8 at 6pm, the preseason schedule kicks off when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park. This matchup features two of the league’s best squads from 2012, and the two odds-on-favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Last season the Broncos finished 13-3, winning the AFC West before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers finished 11-4-1, winning the NFC West, before falling to the same Ravens in the Super Bowl.

First the obligatory disclaimer that this is still just preseason football. The outcomes don’t matter and aren’t indicative of how well a team will do during the regular season. Instead, it’s a time to hope for good health, to keep an eye on a few key position battles, to look for growth and improvement from key players, and to hope for good health some more.

San Francisco has already been dealt a couple of blows due to injuries, most notably to their top wideout Michael Crabtree who is expected to be out until at least around week 12 with a torn Achilles. He joins receiver Mario Manningham on the PUP list. The 49ers have a stockpile of receivers in camp vying for roster spots, with really only Anquan Boldin penciled in as a sure thing as the new go-to option for Colin Kaepernick. AJ Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Kassim Osgood, and rookie Quinton Patton have all also been limited or have missed several practices due to minor injuries. The team recently signed Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins to join the fray at the position, which also includes Ricardo Lockette, Marlon Moore, and Chad Hall. The wide receiving corp as a whole may be the biggest single thing to look for during the preseason, both in terms of who can stay on the field and who can seize the opportunity and fill out the depth chart behind Boldin.

More recently, San Francisco lost cornerback Chris Culliver for the season with a torn ACL. He had been penciled in as the team’s third corner behind Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. It’s a big blow at a position that already had questionable depth. Keep an eye on Nnamdi Asomugh, Tramaine Brock, and Perrish Cox who will be fighting to take over the spot.

The other major position battles to watch will be at kick and punt returner, free safety, and nose tackle.

LaMichael James appears to have the inside track to be the return specialist, as he is listed atop the first game release depth chart the 49ers have issued at both kick and punt returner. He struggled when he was given brief looks at returning punts last season, but reportedly has impressed during camp.

At free safety, CJ Spillman is currently listed as the starter. First round pick Eric Reid, who the team traded up to get, however, is still considered the favorite to start game one of the regular season. Craig Dahl has reportedly had a very strong spring, but is on the outside looking in at this point.

Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey are fighting it out for the nose tackle spot. Both have been performing well at camp, but Williams has the edge.

Notes: Star linebacker Patrick Willis suffered a fracture in his right hand, which will require surgery. Willis has a history of broken hands, and most importantly a history of playing through them without missing a step. He is still expected to be ready to go for the season opener against the Packers, but will be sitting out Thursday’s preseason opener.

49ers add depth, sign Collie, Hawkins

By Gabe Schapiro

August 2, 2013

On Friday the San Francisco 49ers signed wide receivers Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins to one-year contracts. Both players impressed during a tryout Friday, as the 49ers continue to try and address their ailing receiving corp. Center Sherman Carter and punter Colton Schmidt were released to make room for the duo on the 90-man roster.

Collie, a former fourth round pick, has spent his four-year career with the Indianapolis Colts. In 42 career games he has hauled in 173 receptions, 1,845 receiving yards, and 16 touchdowns. He has been a productive slot receiver when healthy, however he has dealt with significant injury problems. He has sustained multiple concussions, and last season played only one game before rupturing his patellar tendon. San Francisco had previously brought in Collie for a tryout in June.

Hawkins, a 27-year old Cal product, has seen limited action during his five-year career with the Tennessee Titans. In 52 games he has 71 receptions, 771 receiving yards, and one touchdown, with his most productive year coming in 2011.

The two join a thinning group of wide receivers at training camp. Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are on the
physically-unable-to-perform list; AJ Jenkins, Kyle Williams, and Kassim Osgood have missed several practices with hamstring strains; and finally rookie Quinton Patton has an injured middle finger and is unable to catch passes.

The defending NFC Champions continue to prepare for the upcoming season as the team’s first preseason game approaches next Thursday. How they will handle their depleted depth at wide receiver will be a major factor to keep an eye on.